The following text was published in the ‘Sufi’ magazine in April, 1918. It was then about eight years since Hazrat Inayat Khan had sailed from the East; he was the father of three small children (the fourth, Khair, would be born the following year); he had managed to draw a small following in England through the years of the First World War, but the busy and productive journeys throughout Europe and America, and the Summer Schools of Suresnes still lay before him. This passage is not so much a direct teaching as a reflection by Hazrat Inayat upon the way the events of his life had formed him for his task. The words ‘How I was trained’ might make us anticipate descriptions of regimes of prayer and various spiritual disciplines, but here we learn how the difficulties and frustrations of life shaped his inner world. It may be helpful to remember that the Master was indeed a human being in need of training, and perhaps we can learn to apply some of his wisdom and patience to our own journey.
How I Was Trained for the Service of God and Humanity
When I look back on my past I see the every happy or unhappy experience I had to go through, however bitter or sweet at the time it appeared, was for the best, and all was for some definite purpose.
I see now that whenever I desired things which were meant for me, a path was made clear, and a helping hand was outstretched to help me in getting them, and whenever I took steps towards getting what was undesirable for me, however fascinating it seemed for the moment, it was either taken away from me, or I was pulled back from it by some mighty force behind.
Sometimes a great despair overwhelmed me, and I wondered why all things which were permissible for others should not be for me. Why should I not have all that I desire in the world when I am roaming here only for a while?
I cried to Him from the depth of my heart, saying, “My lord, my Sustainer, what maketh Thee at times grant my desires and why at other times doest Thou break my heart?”
Then came the answer, “We know what is best for thee and for the purpose of thy life. Thou dost not know what thou shouldest have and what shouldest thou not have.” I submissively bowed my head and said, “Thy will be done.”
I saw later by His Mercy the subtle mystery of nature’s law, and learnt that my yesterday was passed in preparation for today, and last week for the work of this week, last month for this month, my last year’s career for this year; so all my past was a preparation for the future.
My ego was constantly crushed by the echo of every word I uttered in pride, because there was immediately an answer to it. If I felt in the least satisfied with myself, some failing in me immediately manifested to humiliate me. If I thought highly of my family, something to contradict me sprang up. If I prided myself on my nation or race, I had a blow given in answer from the very source of my pride.
If thou knowest Us, know all Our creation as Us.
I looked up to Him and prayed, “O my Lord, why crushest Thou my pride and makest me small before people?” And the answer came, “The name of the Lord is Kabir, the perfect ego, who alone deserveth all pride and every praise is due to Him.”
“Those who pride themselves upon their ideals are as idolators; they are for their ideals and not for Us. If thou knowest Us, know all Our creation as Us. If thou doest praise Us, praise Our immanence in the sublimity of nature. If thou dost serve Us, serve humanity without distinction of class, caste, creed, race, nation or religion; that is the purpose of souls who are blessed by the Vision of their God.”